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Belén Gopegui

Belén Gopegui: The Pursuit of Solidarity in Post-Transition Spain

Series: Monografías A
Volume: 300
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 280
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  • Book Info
    Belén Gopegui
    Book Description:

    This book is the first major study of one of Spain's most celebrated younger novelists, Belén Gopegui, whose work stands apart from other writers of her generation for its uncompromising focus on the social function of literature. Gopegui's social commitments find expression in her concern for solidarity and collective projects. These become more radical over time in response to a disenchantment with the evolution of the left in Spain and to the global impact of the capitalist economic system, giving rise to increasingly interventionist narrative strategies. The core theme of solidarity is explored in relation to the collective experience of Spain's largely consensual democratic transition and to the apparent erosion of collective goals in post-transition society. Gopegui's discourse of solidarity is examined through engagement with theorists of advanced modernity, including Ulrich Beck's 'risk society' model and various contemporary reflections on the concept of solidarity. Centred on Gopegui's first four novels, the study situates analysis of these within the perspective of her later works and illuminates her artistic and intellectual trajectory by drawing on an extensive array of her non-fiction writings and personal interviews, one of which is published here for the first time. Hayley Rabanal is Lecturer in Hispanic Studies at the University of Sheffield.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-999-2
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
    (pp. ix-ix)
    (pp. x-x)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-21)

    The term ‘solidarity’, broadly understood as the ‘unity resulting from common interests, feelings, or sympathies’, has indisputably left-wing connotations.¹ Although appeals to solidarity have become increasingly common today, the term arguably still evokes trade union action and mobilisation of the working classes. In turn, this association harks back to Marx and Engels’s concluding observation in the 1848 Communist Manifesto that ‘[t]he proletarians having nothing to lose but their chains’, and their consequent exhortation: ‘Working men [sic] of all countries, unite!’ (Engels and Marx, 1968: 62).² Indeed, solidarity, in this sense the recognition that ‘we are all in the same boat’,...

  6. 1 Tocarnos la cara: Solidarity as unachievable Ideal
    (pp. 22-77)

    It was suggested in the Introduction that the concept of solidarity can be considered pivotal in interpreting Gopegui’s narrative. However, her second novel, Tocarnos la cara, which is the focus of this chapter, is the first to engage with it concretely. In the earlier La escala de los mapas, it could be argued that the importance of solidarity is obliquely and ambiguously advanced via the negatively articulated critique of the protagonist Sergio Prim’s withdrawal from social life following his failed quest to locate a space for shared intimacy. In this sense, intimacy can be seen to function as a kind...

  7. 2 La conquista del aire: Money as Obstacle to Solidarity
    (pp. 78-134)

    In the previous chapter, it was argued that although the collective project which is the focus of Gopegui’s second novel, Tocarnos la cara, is abandoned by the characters, solidarity does not end up being deemed an unachievable ideal. despite the presentation of the Probador project as an eventual failure, the struggle to put it into practice can nevertheless be viewed as an instructive experience and even one which ultimately gives rise to a reinterpretation of the concept of solidarity. Even so, this potentially new model for solidarity tends to be undermined by Simón, the novel’s secondary narrator and creator of...

  8. 3 From La escala to Lo real: Solidarity as pathway to a Revolutionary horizon
    (pp. 135-201)

    In the previous chapter it was argued that an interpersonal and broader concept of social solidarity tends to be precluded from the outset in La conquista del aire because of the rather determinist development of the narrative. This bleak outlook is echoed in ‘Academia’, a short text published shortly after the appearance of Gopegui’s next novel, Lo real. In it, she laments the loss, during the dismantling of Francoism, of revolution as an ideal to be fought for, maintaining rather nostalgically that ‘[s]oñábamos algunos con la revolu-ción. una revolución donde estaría todo lo que aprendimos del error y el acierto...

  9. Conclusion
    (pp. 202-211)

    Since she began writing, Gopegui has conceived of the novel as having the potential to contribute towards processes of social change which, ideally, would ‘transformar la realidad’ (López-Cabrales, 2000: 82). Although she has become increasingly pessimistic regarding the viability of the genre in order to effect such change, she has nevertheless continued to reject the idea of writing for ‘motivos personales’, preferring to frame the creative process as a response to the question ‘¿para qué escribes?’ rather than ‘¿por qué escribes?’ in order to stress that, for her, ‘la respuesta tenía que estar fuera’ (Brooksbank Jones, 1995– 96: 134–135)....

  10. Appendix: An Interview with Belén Gopegui
    (pp. 212-221)
  11. Bibliography Writings by Belén Gopegui
    (pp. 222-231)
  12. Works Cited
    (pp. 231-254)
  13. Index
    (pp. 255-270)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 271-271)